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Census will create up to 1,200 jobs in Federal Way area

The 2010 census is bringing jobs to the Federal Way area.

To prepare for the census, which will happen in April, several Washington state workers will be hired by the U.S. Census Bureau. On Thursday, Federal Way officials celebrated the opening of an office, located at 33705 9th Ave. S. Building C, to house census employees.

"It's a pleasure to have this office here in Federal Way," city manager Brian Wilson said.

Approximately 800 to 1,200 temporary field workers are needed to help conduct the 2010 census in the Federal Way area, said local census office manager Guadalupe Cavazos. The employees will work part time, between 20 and 40 hours per week. They will work within their own communities in Pierce and King counties, but will respond to permanent staff at the Federal Way location, also known as the Federal Way/Tukwila office.

Field workers, also called census takers, perform basic duties and get paid reasonably well. Employees work during the evening and weekend hours when residents are typically home, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 census jobs Web page. They locate households, explain to residents the purpose of the census, conduct brief personal interviews with residents and record their responses on paper. Census workers generally work in their own local area and are in contact with people who have not returned their census form, according to the bureau. They are paid $17.50 per hour, plus expenses related to conducting business.

Job applicants must meet the following criteria:

• Read, write and speak English.

• Be a U.S. citizen.

• Be a legal permanent resident, hold an appropriate work visa or be bilingual in a language in which there are no other qualified U.S. candidates that speak that language.

• Be at least 18-years-old.

• Have a valid social security number.

• Take a written test of basic skills.

• Posses a valid driver's license.

• Pass a background check.

• Commit to four days of paid training to occur during daytime, evening or weekend hours.

The census helps the government identify each community's needs. The information gathered from the survey is used to make political, economic and social decisions. The questionnaire counts those residing in America and provides demographic information to the federal government.

"We're especially interested in the historically undercounted communities, like people who speak different languages," Cavazos said.

The information determines how more than $400 billion in federal funds are distributed annually. The money funds things such as hospitals, job training centers, schools, senior centers, public works projects, infrastructure and emergency services, Wilson said.

Information provided from the census also determines the number of seats Washington state will occupy in the U.S. House of Representatives. Additionally, the census is used to identify legislative boundaries.

"This is so critical; the information is so valuable," Wilson said.

This year's census is one of the shortest in history. Households will be asked to answer only 10 questions before mailing the form back. Questions include how many people reside in the household, their ages and races and whether the residence is owned or rented.

Administrators want the 2010 census to be the most complete and accurate in history. But tracking down residents will be more difficult this year than in past years.

"This census will be even more challenging because of the economy," said Tom Szabla, assistant regional census manager.

Check it out

To apply for a census job, call the toll-free job hotline at (866) 861-2010 or the local office at (253) 449-1150.

Important things to know about the census

• It takes place once every 10 years.

• The first census took place in 1790.

• It is mailed to all residences in the United States and Puerto Rico.

• Information provided on the questionnaire is provided to the federal government and kept private under Title 13 of the U.S. Code.

• Answers provided on the census are used to make political, economic and social decisions.

• It helps determine how more than $400 billion in federal funds are spent.

• A return addressed, postage-paid envelope is included with the census.

• Census takers contact and interview those who do not return the questionnaire. They then submit the information to the U.S. Census Bureau.

• The census is mailed in March. April 1 is the deadline to return the form. Census takers will visit those who did not return the census April through July.

• More information about the census is available at www.census.gov.

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